Business Featured

Practical tips to surviving lockdown 3

February 04, 2021

Gavin Mills is owner of Bad Apple Hair Salons, 9 salons in the West Midlands and Liverpool, and an academy in Wolverhampton.

With an active client base of 38,000, and a 70-strong team, Gavin is a leading business name in the hair industry. This month he gives us some practical tips for surviving lockdown 3…

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been a struggle to find something positive to say this month about getting through a third lockdown! As business owners we often have to make hard decisions and this is probably one of the hardest times we’ll ever face – what business model can survive repeated full closures without taking a significant hit? With that in mind, this is a ‘warts and all’ guide to survival until we can open our doors again.

Firstly, are you accessing all the support that you can? The Government are giving the following grants:

One-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows: £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under; £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000; £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000. Any business which is legally required to close, and which cannot operate effectively remotely, is eligible for a grant – that is all salons.

You can also claim for the monthly grants on top of what we claimed for in November:

If your business has a property with a rateable value of £15,000 or less, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,334 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.

If your business has a property with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £2,000 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.

If your business has a property with a rateable value of £51,000 or above, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £3,000 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.

These monthly grants can be claimed during each month we are closed.

However, this is the time to be assessing all areas of your business so that when we can re-open, we’re as lean as possible.


Start by looking at your staff performance over the last few months when you’ve been open.

Is there anyone who isn’t making you money? Why? Is it fixable with training, or are they just not the right team player for your salon?

Come up with plans for your team now and make sure they’re implemented post-lockdown.


Are your accounts up to date? Any other admin been hanging around that needs doing?

Get all those little jobs done now and see if you can implement better systems moving forward, there’s some great software programmes out there so spend some time researching – if trawling the net yourself isn’t your thing then get onto some Facebook groups like Professional Hairdresser, the Fellowship for British Hairdressing or UK Hairdressers Helping Hairdressers, and ask for suggestions – that way you’ll get real recommendations as a good starting point for your research.

These groups are also a good way to stay in touch with the industry and get moral support as well as advice.


Don’t compromise your furlough claims but encourage staff to watch free online education – there’s so much of it about at the moment and it’s a really good time to learn.

From colour to cut to business and everything in between, educators are giving away great deals in lockdown. Stay in regular contact with staff to reassure them but I think everyone knows these are precarious times and they should want to upskill and stay busy.

Maybe they could share their favourite courses or what they’ve learnt via a team WhatsApp group or similar, or use a team Facebook page to show their doll head work?


This is a really crucial area to nurture during lockdown. Marketing is one of the most economical ways to get and keep clients, so ensure your newsletter is up to date and your socials and website are looking good.

Use your newsletter to continue to market to clients, and include encouragement about how to look after their hair, the best way to apply treatments, styles to hide regrowth etc.

Talk about why colour-gone-wrong costs more to fix in the long run, include some tempting images of beautiful balayage or other salon only techniques to give them something to look forward to, show them some tutorials on in between styling.

Plug your recommend a friend or loyalty scheme and if you can still sell retail, do it!

Have a plan in place to get clients booked when we know when we can reopen and think about what you can upsell, aim for added value rather than discounting, and stay positive and aspirational with your messaging.

I’d also still plan for imagery creation, because while I wouldn’t look to budget for award shoots at the moment I would keep things ticking over with brand imagery, even if that’s a low key shoot on one model to keep things fresh.

Think about creating an image that’s multitasking, and would work to promote colour, styling and care for example.

I know it’s hard, and there’s isn’t enough help in my opinion, but keep hanging in there, when we get to the other side there will be a recovery and salons will continue to be a growth industry.